"My skin just won't clear up!" Scott, a patient of mine recently saw me for Athelet's Foot, or tinea pedis, a fungal skin infection in the feet.
"I put the cream on for a week, it clears up, and then it comes back! Arh! So annoying." His gripe was the fact that they keep coming back, and asked for another cream to put on it.
"It gets itchy and raw, the skin goes red and peels," Scott complained.
I had to explain to him - the pain of a fungal infection, is that they are so persistent! Usually the treatments for them is antifungal, most commonly in the form of creams, however, it needs to be continued for a solid TWO weeks after all the symptoms have cleared up.
"Why? But doesn't it mean the fungus is gone when the symptoms clear up?"
Yes, technically. Fungus reproduce by depositing spores - kind of like seeds. These seeds get deposited in the skin, and are protected from the antifungal medication.
If one stops applying the medicine, once the spores start growing again...we're back to square one.
So keep applying the cream for at least two weeks after everything clears up, and then some, to make sure it doesn't come back.
The same goes for any kinds of fungal skin infections - ring worms, jock itch and so on.